Summer fruit picking in Australia: survival tips & working guide

Summer fruit picking in Australia: survival tips & working guide

The sun, the sand, the smiles; the Australian summer offers up endless fun for backpackers. Unfortunately fun tends to cost money, so working holidaymakers will be looking for a summer job to pay for their adventures.

The good news: a wealth of fruit and vegetables are harvested over Australia’s summer months, so willing and motivated backpackers will never be short of work at this time of year.

Australia is a sprawling country that stretches from the warm and tropical north to the cool and temperate south, from the dry deserts of the west to the moist greenery of the east. In this guide we’ll tell you exactly where you can get a fruit picking job in the Australian summer, and how to beat the heat so you can pick more and earn more.

The 5 best summer fruit picking jobs in Australia

Where should you aim to pick fruit during the Australian summer months? Here are five of the best opportunities across the country for the harvests between December – February.

1. Stone fruit in the Riverland

The Riverland is the area in eastern South Australia that surrounds the River Murray as it enters the state from neighbouring Victoria. A region drenched in sun and fed by the waters of the river, horticulture is big business, and in summer the fruit picking harvest is focused primarily on stone fruits such as apricots, peaches and nectarines.

Browse fruit picking jobs in South Australia

2. Melons in Queensland

Melon picking for backpackers

Melons are grown right up the coast of Australia’s second-largest state – Queensland – from Brisbane in the southeast to Cairns in the far north. The weight of watermelons and rockmelons (AKA cantaloupes) mean that they are far from the easiest things to harvest, but the physicality of the work means that good pickers can make good money on Queensland melon farms.

Browse fruit picking jobs in QLD

3. Mangoes in northern WA

Grown in the northern half of the state, Western Australian mangoes are picked from October through to March, with the northernmost farms harvesting their crop first.

Mango summer harvest for backpackers

The heat and humidity of the tropical Australian summer can make this challenging work, so you should only tackle the task if you believe you’re physically capable.

Browse fruit picking jobs in WA

4. Berries in Tasmania

A relatively refreshing summer fruit picking experience can be found in Tasmania, Australia’s southernmost state. The cool climate is ideal for raspberries, blueberries and strawberries – picking season stretches from November to April, with the summer months forming its peak. Most berry farms are also found within striking distance of Tasmania’s two biggest cities, Hobart and Launceston.

Browse fruit picking jobs in Tasmania

5. Almonds in Victoria

Sure, we’re bending the rules by adding nuts to this fruit picking list, but seeing as though almonds are Victoria’s number one horticultural export, near enough is good enough. A somewhat less manual job than those listed above, almonds are generally harvested by mechanically shaking the tree and sweeping up the nuts that fall. Labour is therefore concentrated in the warehouse, where the almonds are processed and packed.

Browse fruit picking jobs in Victoria

7 tips to deal with the summer fruit picking heat

You’ve got the job, now it’s time to do the work. The Australian summer can be an intense beast, so it may not be as simple as rocking up and grabbing fruit. Maximising earnings is about staying healthy and taking care of yourself.

To that end, here are seven strategies to help you work through the Australian summer heat. 

  1. Stay hydrated: Summer fruit picking combines heat, humidity and physical exertion – a recipe that can see you losing a lot of fluids very quickly. Drink plenty of water to keep those fluids up. Consider investing in drinks with added electrolytes, as these are designed to replace both the water and minerals your body loses through sweat.
  2. Cover yourself: Wear clothes that are lightweight and loose-fitting – consider long sleeves and pants to keep the sun off your skin. Wear a broad-brimmed hat or a cap with one of those super awesome flaps at the back. Choose light colours that reflect the heat over dark colours that capture it. Wear sunnies and apply a fresh coat of sunscreen every couple of hours, as sweat tends to wash it away.
  3. Invest in cooling tech: From wearable ice packs to neck wraps to personal fans, a range of products are designed to keep workers cool. Consider making an investment in your comfort.
  4. Take breaks: If you’re working out in the direct sun, talk to your employer about scheduling frequent breaks. Choose a shaded area, and if a sprinkler is running, don’t be shy about using it to cool down. Avoid working through the hottest part of the day wherever possible.
  5. Eat well: Fruit picking work is an energy-intensive activity, so you need to ensure you ingest the necessary calories. Take cues from professional athletes: the night before you pick choose a carb-loaded meal that releases its energy slowly over the next day. While picking the next day, opt for regular, light meals that won’t sit heavy in your stomach.
  6. Listen to your body: Be aware of any signs that your body is struggling with heat stress. If you feel dizzy or nauseous, if you develop a headache or migraine, if your vision is blurring or you feel weaker than usual, you may be in danger. Stop working, seek shade and hydrate immediately.
  7. Communicate: Further to the above, keep an open dialogue with your leaders and colleagues as to how you and they are feeling. This isn’t just a way to keep everyone safe – it also helps build connections and make the work more fun!

Fruit Picking Resources

Check our harvest guide for a full rundown of Australia’s harvest seasons, crop-by-crop and state-by-state.

Author: Matthew Heyes

Matthew Heyes is the founder of Backpacker Job Board. Currently based in Melbourne, Matthew originates from UK and came to Australia as a backpacker on a working holiday visa. It was during his time backpacking on the east coast of Australia that he built Backpacker Job Board. Find Matthew Heyes on Linkedin